Baucus Urges Swift Action On Katrina Relief
Senator Joins Colleagues in Releasing Relief Package
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus and other top Senate Democrats todaypushed for swift action in assisting Hurricane Katrina victims. As the ranking member of theSenate Finance Committee, Senator Baucus proposed a number of tax, welfare, and healthprovisions to help recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region yesterday.
“Thousands have lost their homes, jobs, and access to health care because of HurricaneKatrina,” Baucus said. “Their lives have been turned upside down and will never be the same.These victims will need immediate assistance, but we will also have to plan for the future as thisarea begins the rebuilding process. These proposals were created after consulting with SenatorLandrieu and I am currently working with Senator Grassley to deliver a package that willprovide much needed assistance.”
Baucus’ plan provides unemployment insurance, health care coverage, temporary cashassistance, and tax relief to bring both immediate and long-term relief to the survivors ofHurricane Katrina.
Highlights of the Baucus Relief Package follow:
Provide Healthcare for Katrina Victims
• Immediate Access to Medicaid for Displaced Individuals
• Federal Support for Affected States’ Medicaid Programs: States caring for hurricaneevacuees should receive full federal support for their Medicaid and SCHIP programs.
• Compensation to Affected Health Providers: Providers caring for evacuees shouldreceive federal add-on payments to alleviate the burden of uncompensated care.Help Ease the Cash Crunch for Displaced Workers
• Unemployment Insurance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA): ExpiringUnemployment Insurance should automatically be extended for victims of Katrina thatwere out of work prior to the disaster. Disaster Unemployment Assistance, a program inplace to provide assistance for victims of disaster, should be expanded to cover moreworkers. The weekly DUA benefits should be expanded to at least the Federal limit of$270 a week and coverage should be expanded from 26 weeks to 52 weeks to givevictims more time to get back on their feet.
• Make TANF Contingency Fund Accessible for Affected States – Provide Alabama,Louisiana and Mississippi access to portion of the TANF Contingency Fund, whichcurrently has $2 billion for financial crises.
• Waive Penalties Related to Work Requirements and Time Limits for Beneficiariesin Disaster Affected States. In order to receive TANF assistance, recipients have toperform 30 hours of work a week and have a limited amount of time they are eligible toreceive assistance. States could relax these rules for victims of this disaster to ensurepeople receive TANF assistance.
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